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Seroma

AMBULATORY CARE:

A seroma

is a pocket of clear fluid that develops after surgery or an injury. The fluid can collect in tissues or under the skin. Breast, neck, and abdominal surgery are the most common causes of a seroma. A drain used after surgery can also lead to a seroma if it fails or is removed too early. A major surgery or a surgery used to remove tissue increases your risk for a seroma.

Common signs and symptoms of a seroma:

  • A swollen lump that may be tender or sore when you touch it
  • Clear fluid coming from the incision site
  • A hard knot in the incision site if the seroma hardens

Seek care immediately if:

  • You see pus, watery blood, or fluid coming from your surgery site.
  • Your surgery wound comes open.
  • You have a high fever.
  • You have severe pain, redness, warmth, or swelling in the surgery site.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.
  • You have a lump near the surgery site, or the area is tender.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a mild fever that does not come down with medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment

may not be needed if the seroma is small. You may need any of the following to treat a large seroma:

  • Antibiotics may be given if the seroma becomes infected with bacteria.
  • Aspiration is a procedure used to remove the fluid. Your healthcare provider will use a needle to draw out the fluid. You may need to have this done several times.
  • A drain may be placed to remove the fluid. An existing drain may need to be moved to a different area.
  • Sclerosis is a procedure to help the seroma close. Liquid antibiotic or other medicine is injected into the seroma through a drain. The liquid sits for 30 to 60 minutes and then is removed through a needle. This causes the seroma to close.
  • Surgery may be used to remove the pocket of fluid if other treatments do not work.

Manage a seroma:

  • Check your surgery site for signs of infection. These include swelling, red skin, or pus. Infection may mean that the seroma is developing into an abscess (pocket of pus). You may need surgery to treat an abscess.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's activity instructions. Your healthcare provider will tell you if it is safe for you to exercise and do your daily activities while you have a seroma. He or she will tell you which activities are right for you and how much activity to have each day. You may also need to limit certain movements if your seroma needs to be drained.
  • Wear pressure devices, if directed. Pressure devices include pressure bandages and binders. Your healthcare provider will tell you which device to use and how long to wear it each day.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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